The Tree of Jiva and Atman
appears in the Vedic
scriptures, predating current Hinduism
, as a metaphysical metaphor concerning the soul.
The Rig Veda samhita
1.164.20-22, Mundaka Upanishad
3.1.1-2, and Svetasvatara Upanisad 4.6-7, speak of two birds, one perched on the branch of the tree, which signifies the body
, and eating its fruit, the other merely watching.
Rig Veda samhita says:
1.164.20 Two birds associated together, and mutual friends, take refuge in the same tree; one of them eats the sweet fig; the other abstaining from food, merely looks on.
1.164.21 Where the smooth-gliding rays, cognizant, distil the perpetual portion of water; there has the lord and steadfast protector all beings accepted me, though immature in wisdom.
1.164.22 In the tree into which the smooth-gliding rays feeders on the sweet, enters, and again bring forth light over all, they have called the fruit sweet, but he partakes not of it who knows not the protector of the universe.
The first bird represents a Jiva
, or individual self, or soul
. She has a female
nature, being a sakti, an energy
. When the jiva becomes distracted by the fruits (signifying sensual pleasure), she momentarily forgets her lord and lover and tries to enjoy the fruit independently of him. This separating forgetfulness is maha-maya
, or enthrallment, spiritual death
, and constitutes the fall of the jiva into the world of material birth
and old age
The second bird is the Paramatman
, an aspect of God
who... Read More